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Jan 20, 2011 07:11 AM

White House Apple Pie vs. Martha Stewart's

Apple pie was served at the White House State dinner last night, I was curious enough to look up the recipe -- can be seen here:

it calls for 2 lbs. apples and 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey.

The recipe I've taken to using and loving is Martha Stewart's

it calls for *3* lbs. apples and only 1/4 cup sugar! And the fact that it has so little added sugar I think is what makes it so delicious, completely aside from any health/diet considerations.

Just an observation..

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  1. Interesting. 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup honey, no mention of apple variety, though, must have been a very tart firm variety, or perhaps the President likes his pie a bit sweeter. Maybe the honey was from the Whitehouse bee hives. I bet Bill Yosses varies the amount of sugar in his pies, according to the tartness of the apples.

    MS uses a variety of apples, and less sugar, as do I, but I don't necessarily add a specific measure of sugar, I base the amount of sweetener on the type and mix of apples I'm using, sometimes up to a cup.

    Juicing the fruit first, prebaking the crust and cooking the apples first is a great way to make a very nice pie; even, thoroughly cooked bottom crust, tender flavorful chunks of apple, rather than thin slices, so you know you're eating apple pie. I don't think many people take those extra steps, but the results are well worth it. You would obviously want to use a tart, firm pie apple when cooking the filling first before baking. I think if I was baking a pie for the President, I'd take the extra steps...

    2 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      "I think if I was baking a pie for the President, I'd take the extra steps..."

      or maybe you get to be pastry chef to the President by *always* taking the extra steps.

      1. re: blue room

        Oh, certainly and that's how it's done, always take the steps. But I was thinking more about if the President just happened to stop over to my humble abode for lunch...

    2. with a quarter cup sugar, you still get sauce? a good apple pie uses the sugar to enhance the apple, just like with sour cherries...

      I take mine over both of them.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Chowrin

        If by "sauce" you mean the pie is wet inside, :) yes. I understand that the varities and sweetness of the apples have a lot to do with, I'm not skilled by a lot of experience so I follow recipes pretty faithfully. But the apples I use most in baked goods are Granny Smith and Braeburn--simply because theyre usually the best buys here. And the M. Stewart pie has always surprised me with how good it is. Chowrin -- how much sugar / which apples in your pie?

        1. re: blue room

          my pie uses 2-3 tablespoons of tapioca, no cornstarch at all. beautiful pearls of tasty juicy apple-ioca. anywhere from a half cup to a full cup seems reasonable.

          I like yellow apples for pie (gold delicious on down, but my faves are Goldrush!)

          2 tbsp of lemon juice.
          1.5 tsp cardamom, fresh ground (i use mortar and pestle).
          1 tsp cinnamon.

          cut the apples, stir them with the sugar, tapioca and the rest (incl. the lemon juice) and then make your Crisco side of the box pie crust. drop the apples in (stacked), and throw on the top crust. Cut Holes, or you'll be sorry. (five makes it look purty).

          and i cook mine in the convection oven, 400 degrees for an hour (started cold).

          1. re: Chowrin

            Timely - this very minute I'm trying to crush cardamom seeds with the back of a spoon for some little Scandanavian cream buns. I tried the food processor, no good. (It whips granulated sugar into powder, why won't it powder cardamom seeds??) Tried hitting with hammer in a little baggie, no good. I would use the coffee grinder but Mr. is afraid it will wreck coffee flavor. I have no mortar and pestle. So I'm crushing with the back of a spoon, works pretty well.
            Back to topic-- Golden Delicious are wonderful in apple desserts, I've used them. I'm glad to hear about Goldrush.

            1. re: blue room

              Cardamon and coffee is quite good together, ask me how I know...

              I like golden Delicious as well, with a tart apple and maybe a Gala or Rome.

                1. re: blue room

                  Because I ground the seeds in the coffee bean grinder, then I forgot to clean it out. I realized my error when mrbushy commented on the "different but good" flavor of the next pot of coffee. Thank God it wasn't some other spice.


                  Good in apple pie, as Chowin mentioned.

                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                    Serendipity for sure. Chicory is used in coffee too -- or at least was -- but that's a different coffee circumstance, I think.

                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                      Cardamom and coffee is a classic combination--much of the Middle East drinks it this way. You can even buy it pre-ground together in the Armenian owned supermarkets here in LA.

                2. re: blue room

                  Grind a couple of tablespoons of raw white rice after you do spices, cleans the grinder of oils and flavors/odors.

                  I do know there are people who throw cardamom pods into the filter basket with the coffee, so the flavors obviously work together.

                3. re: Chowrin

                  To me Golden Delicious has a slight pear flavor so if you like that variety you might try adding pears to your apple pie. I like the apples in my pies to be very soft, better mushy than hard, so partially cooking them in the microwave seems to do the trick.

            2. This is my favorite apple pie recipe:

              1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust
              1/2 cup unsalted butter
              3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
              1/2 cup white sugar
              1/2 cup packed brown sugar
              1/4 cup water or apple juice
              8 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored
              and sliced

              1. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
              2. Meanwhile, place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
              3. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.

              5 Replies
              1. re: hto44

                Oh "Pour slowly...the sugar and butter liquid" ...over the lattice crust ...
                now I gotta try that. But don't some of the apple slices remain unsauced, because they're sitting on top of one another?

                1. re: blue room

                  No...they all get coated. It is so good and now I want a piece! I forgot to add that I lightly dust the top with sugar and I also lightly toss the apple slices with cinnamon.

                2. re: hto44

                  This sounds like the Scotch Apple Pie recipe that I love from my Betty Crocker cookbook. It's a paperback and well used and stained. It's their "all pie" cookbook. Love what the brown sugar and cooking the apples does to the pie. Love the warmth of it.

                  1. re: hto44

                    this is pretty close to the recipe for the first pie i ever made. and the sugar/butter syrup is key. i add cinnamon to the filling as well :)

                    1. re: hto44

                      I found this recipe on and made a couple pies this fall. They came out great but it was the first pie I'd ever made so I have no base for comparison.

                    2. I don't think the recipe in the blog for White House Apple Pie is accurate. There is no way that 2 pounds of apples will be sufficient for a "deep 9 inch pie" as called for in the recipe. I use 3 pounds for a 9-inch dome pie. And 1 cup of sugar plus 1/2 cup of honey for 2 pounds of apple: it will be way way too sweet; 3/4 cup of sugar is plenty for 3 pounds and the lemon juice will balance the sweetness. And all that cornstarch; guess it needs to set up for them to cut it into neat wedges. I am sure Pastry Chef Yosses' pie came out great, therefore, I more or less think there were errors in the posted recipe.
                      As for Martha Stewart's recipe using only 1/4 cup of sugar and plus 2 tablespoon of lemon juice for 3 pounds of apples (calling for apples as tart as Granny Smith), it would be way too tart for my taste and I tend to like desserts less sweet. Most of her recipes in her Pies and Tarts book use at least 1/2 cup of sugar for 3 pounds of apples and no lemon juice.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: PBSF

                        Yes, I noticed that. 2 lbs of apples are usually about 6 apples, depending on type and weight; that amount can fill a regular 9" pie pan to level. I use about 3 lbs or approximately 9 apples for a deep dish moderately domed 9 1/2" pie. Remember, as stated in the recipe, he cuts his apples into chunks. It's possible that chunks, because of their volume, may fill a 9" deep pie pan to more height than thin slices. Plus no one mentioned the outcome being a domed pie.

                        9" deep metal pie pans are normally anywhere from 1 3/16" to 1 1/2" deep, whereas the deep dish glass 9 1/2" pans are about 1 3/4 " to 2" deep, a bit of a difference in volume. Perhaps 2 lbs of apples works for his 9" deep pans.

                        That is quite a bit of cornstarch, especially for 2 lbs of apples, but since the chef juiced the apples first in the sugar, spices and honey before cooking, it may have made a pretty thick filling, but not overly so. Certainly not running out on the plate. Nothing wrong with a slice of pie that sets up well.

                        I also noted that it was stated that Chef Yosses uses deep metal pans, but the photo of his assistant pastry chef with browned pie crusts on the counter in front of her appear to be in glass.

                        I'm not trying to argue any of your points, but I think until this recipe is executed, it can't be known if there are inaccuracies. You know Bill Yosses is a highly recognized skilled pastry chef, who knows what he's doing; the blogger definitely could have got the measurements incorrect, but I wonder.

                        The thing that bugged me the most was that there was no mention of apple variety. That's an important fact and a glaring omission, or maybe it's a state secret, but that doesn't prove to me that the blooger didn't get the recipe amounts correct. Maybe it just wasn't a very in-depth post.

                        As for the Martha Stewart pie sugar measurement, there tend to be errors in her recipes online occasionally. Her recipe did call for a mix of apples, including Granny Smith; some of the choices are quite sweet, and the juice of a lemon; regardless, I think a 1/4 cup of sugar is not going to do it. I don't like a sweet pie, but that's just too little sugar.

                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                          Mistakes in the online recipes would explain a lot. Also infuriate a lot!
                          Though the Stewart pie above is "classic" apple pie -- her "old fashioned" apple pie calls for 4 lbs. of (mixed) apples to 1/2 cup sugar, so that one too uses very little sugar.

                          1. re: blue room

                            I found a recipe from the People magazine website that also says it's Chef Yosses' apple pie. With the exception of some added sugar in the crust recipe, the ingredients are the same, though some of the quantities differ. It calls for 3lbs of apples.


                            1. re: gmm

                              Oh good, plus a mention of apple varieties Chef Yosses prefers/uses, but no real surprises there, though. I do think it's going to turn out a sweeter pie than most like, but as I posted upthread, it may be for the President's taste; hm, wonder if the First Lady has anything to say about that.

                              Blue room, yes, online recipe errors are frustrating, and I think editing can be very crunched, and probably not checked for accuracy nearly as closely as cookbook editing.

                            2. re: blue room

                              It's not a mistake, but it is too little sugar. I was intrigued, so I made Martha's classic apple pie last night. I had about four pounds of apples I needed to use, so I upped the sugar to 1/3 C. It's not terrible, but it really does cry for more sugar -- And I prefer desserts that aren't too sweet.

                              1. re: CathleenH

                                What kind of apples did you use? I've made this twice (maybe 3 times?) and thought it was so good because the apples were so apparent.
                                I usually look at the huge expensive Granny Smiths and opt for smaller Roma, Braeburn, or Delicious, which are probably sweeter.
                                I do eat apple pie with sharp cheddar, and my Mr. drowns his in cream, unwhipped.
                                Have made standard apple crisp recipes and found them way too sweet.

                                1. re: blue room

                                  I used 50-50 Granny Smith/Braeburn.

                                  Last night, I made another pie with 100% Granny Smith and 2/3 cup brown sugar. I thought it was perfect.

                            3. re: bushwickgirl

                              I don't think it's necessarily a mistake. I use tart apples and about 1/3 cup sugar for 8 cups of apples, and I find this sweet enough. The idea of using a full cup of sugar and a half a cup of honey for 2 lbs of apples sounds awful to me, though. To each his/her own!

                              1. re: visciole

                                Is it possible the apples get weighed *after* peeling/coring/slicing?
                                Stupid question?

                                1. re: blue room

                                  That is not a stupid question; for consistency in large quanitity production, that is how one measures for each pie, though the recipe is not written that way.

                            4. re: PBSF

                              Some recipes I've noticed are wrong in their print. Example-Nancy Regans famous pumpkin pie recipe I've seen printed a few times in different publications and even cut one out to make it once. That's when I noticed it didn't contain any eggs or milk. How could or would it set up? Never made it cause I knew it was wrong.

                            5. I have read the recipe for Yosse's apple pie, just a quick the method it states to line the bottom crust with a 1 inch overhang. Then once cold bake it....what about the 1 inch you leave it on or should you cut it off.....I realize one should have an overhang when not pre-baking and then the top crust is incorporated with the bottom crust and crimpted. Can someone explain this to me?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: heylids

                                Well, it does say to "gently crimp the top crust" so I think the 1 inch overhang has now shrunk to about even with the edge of the pan. So you carefully gently pinch the raw dough onto the cooked dough, you can't be firm like you would with 2 raw edges.